It’s a Human-Eat-Dog World Out There
I had the pleasure of going to a grown-up literary event a couple of weeks ago with some coworkers and girlfriends. David Sedaris was speaking for the Dallas Museum of Fine Art lecture series. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, David Sedaris is, at least according to his agency, "[one] of our culture's most important and thought-provoking voices." To me, he’s a brilliant, wry, humor writer whose work I emulate.
Anyhow, one of the stories Sedaris told that night was of his trip to China. Among his biting and wickedly funny commentary on Chinese life and culture, he told a story about a meal he had at a farm there. I sooo wish I could remember the specifics of the story, but it involved his partner, Hugh, objecting to eating Sea Horse because "they are cute."
This got him into an "if you think that’s bad" story, told to him by one of his travel companions who had gone to a village … somewhere (I can’t remember where. I really have a terrible memory, the result of chronic sleep deprivation, vitamin D deficiency, and general "mom brain").
His travel companion, a woman, worked for the Peace Corps and did something to help this village (again, I forget the details). To show their gratitude, they made her a grand feast — the crowning glory of which was dog face.
In this village, they eat dog, and apparently, the face is the best part. (The vet in me couldn’t help but think: well, that makes sense, the temporal muscles of the dog are huge and thick and meaty, and I can see how that would be a desirable cut for consumption … assuming you’re into that sort of thing).
Well, this girl couldn’t offend her hosts; she had no choice but to eat the dog face (no mention was made as to what it tasted like, sorry).
So why do I bring this David Sedaris story up?
I have been involved in a case with a drop dead gorgeous client from a tiny village in Ghana, Africa. I met her a few weeks ago when her standard poodle came in for shots. This woman is one of those people who are so pretty they don’t seem like they belong in our regular little world. Super skinny, dressed to the nines, fancy shoes, accessories, etc. You want to hate her, but she is simply the nicest, sweetest, kindest human being on the planet.
Her dog came in on Tuesday, sick. He’s 14 months old; he’d been vomiting and refused to eat for a few days. Turns out he’d swallowed some of the baby’s toys and other baby items and was obstructed. We did an exploratory, got everything out, and the dog is now on the path to recovery.
The day after the surgery, she told me how grateful she was that the dog was okay. And then with tears in her eyes, she said "You don’t understand, in my village, we eat dogs. This is the first dog I’ve loved."
I’ve loved dogs my whole life. Apparently, I take it for granted because for that moment, while I looked into that shining face, I got a glimpse, a reminder of just how precious that bond is. Watching her discover the depth, and the extraordinary gift of unconditional love that dogs provide was like a little spark of sunshine.
In a flash, the moment passed and the client said to me, "When my father met this dog, he said, 'High five! I won’t eat anymore dogs.'"
Immediately an image popped into my head of this red standard poodle as a U.N. Ambassador, educating people against dog consumption.
One village at a time.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll